Three early career cell biology researchers have won the 2016 ASCB-Gibco Emerging Leader Prizes. Each will receive $3,000.

Maria Barna, assistant professor at Stanford University, won for her research on ribosome heterogeneity. This “ribocode” form of gene regulation provides a novel means for diversity of the proteins that can be produced in specific cells, tissues, and organisms.

Nicolas Plachta, principal investigator at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore, won for his work on resolving cell fate, shape, and position during development, especially for developing new live imaging technologies to analyze single cells in mouse embryos.

Antonina Roll-Mecak, investigator at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, won for her key contributions to deciphering the tubulin code. She established the first biochemical platform to investigate tubulin posttranslational modifications and is using this platform to interrogate how the tubulin code regulates microtubule effectors.
The prizes honor emerging leaders in science and are for non-tenured faculty holding independent positions who are in the early phase of their career (in the first R01 renewal space or equivalent).

These prizes are part of a partnership between ASCB and Gibco to support excellence in science. Both ASCB and Gibco recognize the challenging times that up-and-coming leaders in scientific research face. ASCB and Gibco are both determined to do everything possible to raise the visibility of our most promising young scientists.

The seven additional finalists are:

Simon Alberti, Senior Research Group Leader at the Max Plank Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, won for his research on how cells adapt to stress. He showed that stressed cells alter the cytoplasm in a controlled manner and form membrane-free compartments by phase separation.
Don Fox, assistant professor at Duke University, won for his research on genome duplication. He recently demonstrated that genomes can be restored without restoring cell number during hypertrophic injury responses, and that this genome matching represents an overlooked yet common stem cell alternative that accomplishes extensive tissue repair.

Stephanie Gupton,
assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, won for identifying a nondegradative role for protein ubiquitination. She identified a cycle of protein ubiquitination and deubiquitination that occurs at filopodia tips to regulate the cytoskeleton during axon guidance.

Ajit Joglekar,
assistant professor at University of Michigan Medical School, won for showing how the kinetochore implements mechanochemical signal transduction, especially that kinetochore–microtubule attachment mediates silencing of the spindle assembly checkpoint in budding yeast.

Anthony Leung, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, won for his research on non-membranous RNA granules and microRNAs. Since establishing his lab, he has developed novel proteomics approaches to identify the sites of ADP-ribosylation—a posttranslational modification involved in the regulation of stress granules and microRNA activity.

Amy Ralston, recently promoted to associate professor and James K. Billman, Jr., M.D., Endowed Professor at Michigan State University, won for determining how genes regulate stem cell behavior in the context of the mammalian embryo. Recently she showed that cells previously thought to be trapped in an intermediate, partially reprogrammed state are functional stem cells of a distinct lineage.

Pere Roca-Cusachs, assistant professor at the University of Barcelona and Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, won for his research uncovering a biophysical molecular mechanism by which cells sense tissue rigidity and transduce it into downstream signaling.

The top 10 finalists will be recognized at the Keynote of the ASCB 2016 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA, December 3. All 10 finalists will also be invited to a special event with senior ASCB leaders.